The work of Portuguese artist Juliao Sarmento is renowned for its eliptical, but incisive, use of the fleeting and fragmentary. In his large, spare paintings figures are often left enigmatically incomplete, but they are never inanimate; the gestures they make and the tiny adjustments that the artist lets us see can unleash an unexpectedly powerful train of association. These intelligent and emotive works confirm the lasting impact of fleeting subtlety, as opposed to the crude posturing, of so much of today’s artistic bombast. Although Sarmento has a major international reputation—solo shows at the Reina Sofia, the Hirshhorn and selection as Portugal’s representative at the 1997 Venice Biennale—his work is surprisingly little shown in the UK. His first solo show at the Lisson Gallery (17 January-7 March) finds Sarmento using both film and paintings to delve into themes of repetition and doubling: a new film, “Doppelgänger” created specifically for this exhibition presents two women who do not look alike but behave in the same way, and this theme of two non-identical, but often indistinguishable, women permeates the entire show.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Julião Sarmento, "Doppelgänger"'